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Rangers prospect focus shows no sign of changing

April 1, 2014, by
Kreider is only of several draftees from the US system (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Kreider is only of several draftees from the US system (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

When you look at the current Rangers roster, there are plenty of examples how the Rangers have successfully looked to the American hockey program and how the franchise has a preference for American trained players. Whether it be the drafting of Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller or Carl Hagelin, the free agent signing of Cam Talbot or the now infamous acquisition of Ryan McDonagh, the Rangers have had significant success with their recent focus on US trained players.

It goes beyond the current roster. The Rangers system currently boasts several players who have either come through the US development program or the NCAA system. Whether it be Conor Allen, Ryan Bourque or Danny Kristo already at the pro level, or prospects such as ‘Boo’ Nieves, Steve Fogarty and Brady Skjei still in college, the Rangers have continued to look toward the US system for success.

With the recent signings of Ryan Haggerty and Chris McCarthy, the Rangers have also continued to look for low risk signings out of college that cost nothing other than a contractual commitment for 2-3 years. The signing of Cam Talbot is proof that there are bargains to be found in the college system even when players don’t get drafted. The Rangers are wise to continue down this path when you factor in the draft picks recently traded away in trades aimed to address immediate roster needs.

There is no particular route or league that benefits a franchise more than the other (major junior, Europe or the American system) but it is clear the Rangers are confident in the US systems (allowing for the ‘hiccup’ that was Hugh Jessiman…) and it would be no surprise to see them continue down that path in upcoming drafts.  Hopefully there will be more Derek Stepan’s and Ryan McDonagh’s than Hugh Jessiman’s.


  1. Peter Bockman says:

    infamous acquisition of Ryan McDonagh ? ?

    1. well known for some bad quality or deed.
    “an infamous war criminal”
    synonyms: notorious, disreputable

  2. Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

    I love all the North American players on the roster and on the farm team. Some teams have different phylosophies like Detroit who love their Swedes. At one time they were built 75-80% of Swedish born players. Sather and Gorton just need to at the very least look for big kids that can skate. This kid McCarthy is a good start.

  3. SalMerc says:

    As long as the focus is on quality rather than country of origin, I am okay. When you give away first-round picks like they are meaningless, you do need to stock from alternate areas.

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      That to me is well said and I agree whole heartadly. You’re right, it’s senseless to over look any player due to origins. My concern is more with size & skating ability than country. While Duclair may be a great skater, if he can’t score 20 goals or more a year. He’s not as effective. His craft is offensive production. Where as say a Kreider can use his size to the teams benefit in any game when he doesn’t score. How many of the Rangers prospects can do that without scoring? I look at a kid like Killorn from TB. He wasn’t a top prospect but he’s solid and at 205lbs was able to find a niche in the NHL. Not flashy but in 113 NHL GP he’s got almost 60 points in his career as a 1st or 2nd line LW for the lightning. He’s a perfect 3rd line player for a complete team and with 40 points a year. He’s able to add grit on an ELC. that’s what winning teams find. Sorry to write a novel but I can’t help myself sometimes.

  4. Bort says:

    I’m far from an expert on scouting (and anyone who is, feel free to tell me how wrong I am) but it makes sense that an organization would focus one one specific market and use that higher quality of information (quality of their competition, team play styles, etc) to find gems that other less specialized minds might miss.

    Out of all the complaints I could have about the rangers, scouting and player development has never been up there.

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      That’s true. The Rangers under Sather never went the Bos, Chi, or Pitt full on rebuild. They haven’t had many top 10 draft picks in the last 14 years. They rebuilt on the fly while trying to remain competitive to keep butts in seats IMO. Considering the way Sather has had to build a team by finding lightning in a bottle. I’d say they’ve done a good job scouting the last 10 or so years. A few bad gambles aside early on in his tenure.

  5. SalMerc says:

    Any posts today would be remiss if we didn’t mention Torts. As he returns to NY, his tenure in Vancouver may be short-lived, as his team battles to stay afloat, the “trade” of coaches with NYR seems to have gotten us the better of the deal.

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      I know many think he’s on his way out of BC but I think that’d only be if he quits. A guy like Torts knows what he needs. I’d think Gillis will build the team that fits him and move some pieces around to get the kind of team he needs to win. I think the Canucks still owe AV money and now they’re gonna fire Torts with 4 years left on his deal after only a season. They started off well this year. Kessler has done well their this year. He’s a big tough Torts type player. I think they draft like the NYR did and find some players that’ll help build a winner. I’d force more coaches on Torts to help the PP if I were GM there.

  6. Jess says:


    I think you are making way too much out of where the Ranger players and prospects are born in thinking that is the system they came through.

    Even though many of them played US College Hockey, they actually came up through different means.

    Carl Hagelin came up through the Swedish Hockey program.

    Steven Fogarty and Adam Tambellini are products of the BCHL (British Columbia Hockey League).

    JT Miller played in the OHL not the US colleges

    Brady Skjei, Derek Stepan, and Ryan McDonagh are all products of the Minnesota HS program AND the USNTP.

    They are all Americans yes but they took different routes to the Rangers..

    • Chris F says:

      Actually, Chris didn’t mention at all place of birth (Hagelin is Swedish, so obviously Chris wasn’t focusing on American nationality).

      All of these players were involved in the US junior programs or NCAA. That is the point; they were part of American hockey programs in their development (though not all exclusively).

      Hagelin played at Michigan State, Fogarty and Tambellini played at Notre Dame, Miller played one season in the OHL, but prior to that came up through the USHL playing for the US National Development Team.

  7. Fotiu is God says:

    Chris F. Relatively sure Carl Hagelin played at Michigan, not MSU.

    I also believe he captained his last squad.

    • Chris F says:

      Yes, Michigan, not MSU.

      That was an observation, right, not a rebuttal?

      • Fotiu is God says:

        No rebuttal; simply an shared insight Chris.

        Looking forward to seeing Haggerty and McCarthy join the aforementioned American prospects in our system.

  8. Chris F says:

    Torts on the Callahan trade:

    “It does, yeah, he was my captain. We spent a lot of time together. I saw him when we played in Tampa and the uni didn’t look right.”

    “I give [the Rangers] a tremendous amount of credit, that’s a big hole to fill with what he brings, not only on the ice but in the room too, but they still found their way, with Marty [St. Louis] struggling. It was different when I saw him in a Tampa uniform. It struck me funny.”

    • HARLEMBLUES says:


      • Chris F says:

        Just throwing it out there. Torts was the coach here for 5 years and took this team to their first Conference Finals appearance in 15 years.

        His observations on the Callahan trade and how well the Rangers team has handled it are worth mentioning.

  9. Walt says:

    Your spot on, he was the captain of the Michigan tean!!

  10. Walt says:

    There was a period of time when the Rangers were almost all Czeck’s, and were they ever soft. Glad to see that the team is going more, and more to the North Americans, they seem to play with more heart than the Europeans.

    The Swedes are skilled, great 2 way players for the most part, and even they are getting a bit grittier these days. The captain of Colorado, a second year player from Sweden, nice player, would love Gabriel on my team. You hate to sterio type players, but the Czecks, while skilled, would rather hit you with their purse, than throw a body check!!!!!

  11. HARLEMBLUES says:

    Young,skilled,fast and tough to play against.That’s a winning formula.I would love to have all big players but heart or desire can’t be measured aka Zuccarello.Duclair is fast,skilled and a major scorer at the junior level.The kid has heart and desire. Can’t wait to see him in the sweater.

  12. Frank Cerbone says:

    Bobby Holik is one Czeck that no Ranger could match as a power forward. His last year with the Rangers he scored 25 goals, didn’t miss any games, and just ran over more forwards and defensemen than any forward I have ever seen.
    Holik was just a monster that just went thru people to make it to the net and get goals. I don’t remember him as a good fighter, but just bodycheck wise was just impossible to match up against.

    Why was he traded and bought out? He bad mouthed Sather and team mates with no

    • supermaz says:

      I remember Holik’s tenure with the Rangers 180 degrees the opposite. He was invisible, oft-injured , and a complete disappointment.

    • Chris F says:

      Holik definitely had a solid year in 2003-04 with the Rangers. But you have to remember that he was 35 and set to make $6.875 in 2004-05.

      The CBA had just set the salary cap at $39 million and the Rangers had invested heavily in Jagr ‘ s contract (+$8 million per). This is also right around when Sather announced his new youth mantra, and Lundqvist had just been drafted. The organization needed to free up salary space to begin building a team for the future. Holik didn’t fit in with the new direction.

    • Walt says:

      Holik was an exception to the sterieo type Czeck player, remember the Czeck line with Nedved and the rest of the wimps. There are always going to be exceptions, and Holik was one.

  13. Crash! (@Enufalredi) says:

    As a New Yorker, how can you not love that we have a team & farm full of American and North American players. I love it. They should look at Europians for bargains or players they think may become stars in the NHL some day. Tho the American draft philosophy should continue after Sather is gone. Part of that is the genius of Gorton as well.